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are large volumes of molten lava
Lava refers both to molten rock expelled by a volcano during an eruption and the resulting rock after solidification and cooling. This molten rock is formed in the interior of some planets, including Earth, and some of their satellites. When first erupted from a volcanic vent, lava is a liquid at...
, usually basalt
Basalt is a common extrusive volcanic rock. It is usually grey to black and fine-grained due to rapid cooling of lava at the surface of a planet. It may be porphyritic containing larger crystals in a fine matrix, or vesicular, or frothy scoria. Unweathered basalt is black or grey...
ic, contained in a volcanic vent, crater
A volcanic crater is a circular depression in the ground caused by volcanic activity. It is typically a basin, circular in form within which occurs a vent from which magma erupts as gases, lava, and ejecta. A crater can be of large dimensions, and sometimes of great depth...
, or broad depression. The term is used to describe both lava lakes that are wholly or partly molten and those that are solidified. Lava lakes can form in three ways:
- From one or more vents in a crater that erupts enough lava to partially fill the crater
- When lava pours into a crater or broad depression and partially fills the crater
- Atop a new vent that erupts lava continuously for a period of several weeks or more and slowly builds a crater higher and higher above the surrounding ground.
There have been four volcanoes with persistent or near persistent lava lakes during recent decades:
- Erta Ale
Erta Ale is a continuously active basaltic shield volcano in the Afar Region of northeastern Ethiopia, the most active volcano in Ethiopia. It is in the Afar Depression, a badlands desert area spanning the border with Eritrea, and the volcano itself is surrounded completely by an area below sea...
- Mount Erebus
Mount Erebus in Antarctica is the southernmost historically active volcano on Earth, the second highest volcano in Antarctica , and the 6th highest ultra mountain on an island. With a summit elevation of , it is located on Ross Island, which is also home to three inactive volcanoes, notably Mount...
Kīlauea is a volcano in the Hawaiian Islands, and one of five shield volcanoes that together form the island of Hawaii. Kīlauea means "spewing" or "much spreading" in the Hawaiian language, referring to its frequent outpouring of lava. The Puu Ōō cone has been continuously erupting in the eastern...
- Nyiragongo, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Three other volcanoes have displayed intermittent lava lake activity recently:
Masaya is a shield volcano located 20 km south of Managua, Nicaragua. It is Nicaragua's first and largest National Park, and one of 78 protected areas of Nicaragua. The volcanic complex is composed of a nested set of calderas and craters, the largest of which is Las Sierras shield volcano and...
- Marum, Ambrym
Ambrym is a volcanic island in the archipelago of Vanuatu . It is well known for its highly active volcanic activity that includes lava lake formation.-Etymology:...
Villarrica is one of Chile's most active volcanoes, rising above the lake and town of the same name. The volcano is also known as Rucapillán, a Mapuche word meaning "House of the Pillán". It is the westernmost of three large stratovolcanoes that trend perpendicular to the Andean chain along the...
Kilauea has the unique distinction of having two lava lakes: One in the Halema`uma`u
Halemaumau crater is a pit crater located within the much larger summit caldera of Kīlauea in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The roughly circular crater floor is x and is below the floor of Kīlauea caldera, located at coordinates . Halemaumau is home to Pele, Goddess of Hawaiian Volcanoes,...
vent cavity within the summit caldera, and another located within the Pu'u O'o cone located on the east rift zone of the volcano.